Dove Mail Delivery, Called As Pigeon Post: Read This Before You Get Confused

In this digital era, connecting with people is easy. All you need is a few swipes and taps of your finger on a smartphone to connect with people, not only to your neighborhood but also to the whole world! But, have you ever wonder how was life before the telephone, wireless network, or internet connection?

Thousands of years before all of these technologies, people used to send letters, hand-deliver them, or give them to the postal mails. This method takes a lot of time because communication had to be done in much slower ways. 

People even used to depend on the help of animals to send their letters. They domesticated animals like horses, birds, or dogs to carry the messages for a long distance. The most famous one was the use of homing pigeons or also known as dove mail delivery or pigeon post.

Are those service provided different practices? ‘Dove mail delivery’ term and ‘pigeon post’ can be confusing to some people who are mistaken doves and pigeons as a different animal. Are these two terms have different meaning? 

Before you get more confused than before, let’s read this article about dove mail delivery, pigeon post, the misconception between these two special birds! 

Dove Mail Delivery, Actually Called As Pigeon Post: Read This Before You Get Confused

Pigeons have a proper skill to survive in the wild and able to find their ways back home or nests even after long journeys. Well-trained pigeons that are good at navigation skills for over long distance are also known as the homing pigeons.

When did pigeon post become popular?

The homing pigeons have been in use for delivering messages for over more than 3.000 years, as it is firstly recorder from the Egyptians and Persians era. By observing pigeons’ movement and patterns, it has been known that pigeon has an excellent sense of direction and able to guide themselves home even after soaring for miles. 

This service is called the pigeon post.

What about dove mail delivery? Well, technically it is just the same as pigeon post, where human use bird’s navigation skill to go back and forth carrying the letters. What people usually get confused on is about the ‘dove’ and ‘pigeons’ terms in general.

The misconception about these two is that doves and pigeons are completely different kind of birds, which is not true. You may find it is hard to distinguish which one is a dove and which one is pigeons because they look alike! Well, no wonder you are confused because both pigeons and doves are from the same family which is Columbidae family, that has more than 310 species across the world. The only difference between pigeons and doves is no more than a linguistic problem. 

Turns out, the bird that we usually refer to “dove” is the ring-necked doves, the species of Columbidae birds that have no enough skill to survive in the wild. They are usually fully domesticated by a human so they can’t be independent enough to find their food source. If you let ‘doves’ fly into the wild, they probably killed easily by predators, hit by cars, get lost because they can’t find their way back to their origin nests, and then starve themselves to death.

For short, ‘doves’ do not fulfill the requirements to be a postman. The dove mail delivery services may get a lot of complaints because of their incompetent to send letters, don’t you think?

So what we usually say as ‘dove mail delivery service’ actually use ‘pigeons’ to send the mails. Specifically, they use domestic pigeon that derived from the rock pigeon. This type of bird, even before we train them to be our post-mas, already has an innate homing ability that many studies believed came from the special features that let them see earth’s magnetic field from the sun position. Some studies also said that they navigate through visual landmarks by following familiar roads and other man-made structures.

How do they send the mail?

Pigeons are easy to capture and breed. They are relatively docile so it is easy to train them. Homing pigeons would be trained gradually where they keep on being taken further away from their home or different range of locations on every stage of training. 

The homing pigeons, as the post-man, were transported to a destination in cages. There, they would be attached with the mails or the messages that need to be sent. The messages were usually in the form os small rolls of parchment paper that stored in a small glass or tube. After that, with their navigation skill, naturally, they would fly back to their home or their nest where the owner waits for them and the mail. 

Pigeons are also one of quite birds and way more effective than man on horse, so they have been used in politics, diplomacy, and even military situations up until World War II. In this special case, they are called as war pigeon. Sounds cool, right?

On today’s purpose, homing pigeons are usually used for wedding or funeral organization. No, not to send the invitation, but instead to celebrate the events! The releasing doves are known as one of the most popular wedding traditions, where it is the representation of a symbol of peace, luck, and good wishes on the couple in wedding ceremony and as a symbol of homeward flight of the spirit in funerals ceremony. Just like mail delivery service, we use the rock pigeon, not the ring-necked doves, so the birds that released in the wedding can find their way back home after the ceremony.

What can we conclude from this?

Dove mail delivery is called pigeon post because the exact type of bird that has been used is called homing pigeon, not the usual ‘dove’ like we have known. Ring-necked doves do not have the homing ability, but rock pigeons do.